County workers urge rejection of political appointment jobs Proposed amendment would affect 75 positions

July 07, 1998|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County workers urged the County Council last night to reject a proposed charter amendment that would allow up to 75 top jobs to be removed from the merit system and become political appointments.

Ronald E. Harvey, president of the Supervisory Management and Confidential Association, a group of 700 of county government's top bureaucrats, warned the council that "we can amply show that a spoils system already exists."

Harvey, who works in personnel, accused the administration of County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of manipulating the merit system so completely that civil service rules are routinely bypassed.

"It is time to open government, not close it," Harvey told the council.

The council is scheduled to vote Aug. 3 on whether to place a proposal on the November ballot.

Ken Allen, a police department employee who 20 years ago was chairman of a charter review commission, called Rupperberger's proposal "a hurriedly drafted patchwork that would make political favor the standard for advancement."

Robert J. Barrett, the country executive's special assistant, said the administration has scheduled meetings with supervisory employees to discuss the proposal and assuage their fears.

"We want to work with them," Barrett said.

In other action, the council, without discussion, unanimously approved a bill expanding the definition of home occupations in zoning laws to make legal the use of computers, fax machines bTC and other office equipment in homes.

But a vote to add the original 1924 portion of the old Catonsville High School -- but not the two wings built in 1930 -- to the permanent county Landmarks Preservation list sparked several sharp exchanges.

Towson Republican Douglas B. Riley proposed an amendment to include the two wings, which was rejected by a 6-1 vote. Perry Hall Democrat Vincent J. Gardina accused Riley of having political motives, which Riley denied. Later, former councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley verbally attacked Gardina.

The home occupation vote came almost as an anti-climax after two years of study and debate by county planners, community and business groups and council members.

The council finally opted for a minimal change in the law to legalize home offices, but did not open the door to home-based businesses with nonresident employees, customer visits or inventory storage at home.

Robert L. McKinney, president of the county chamber of commerce, praised the council, saying, "We think it is a major step in the right direction."

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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